Best and worst from this week’s headlines

The Foggy Bottom and West End Neighborhood Advisory Commission unanimously passed a resolution last week that will speed up the construction of GW Hospital’s new helipad, easing residents’ concerns about increased traffic during construction. But new details were found about an alum’s allegation that GW discriminated against them on the basis of age.

Here’s the best and worst from this week’s headlines:

Thumbs Up:

Plans to construct the helipad have also been in the works for several years, and the push to approve its construction was contentious and lengthy. Many residents and ANC commissioners have opposed its construction because of safety concerns and noise from low-flying helicopters.

But now that its construction is off the ground, commissioners have had new complaints to handle. The ANC voted to allow Universal Health Services, one of the hospital’s majority owners, to construct on weekends and expedite the construction timeline from five to two weeks.

Building the helipad requires crane operation, which residents said contributed to an increase in traffic on New Hampshire Avenue. The ANC’s measure will shorten the time frame residents need to deal with construction and allay worries that had been brought up by commissioners and residents about congesting the area where the helipad is being built.

Using the originally estimated five weeks to construct the helipad would have likely interfered with the bustle of students coming back to school. On top of that, five weeks of traffic would have left residents on their last straw. Quicker construction will help pacify students and residents about the already controversial helipad.

Thumbs Down:

In a complaint filed with the Department of Education, a former student alleged that GW discriminated against them because of their age and that the University retaliated against them for bringing the claim to light. The plaintiff said that despite teaching thousands of students, they were never given a computer or office space.

The plaintiff’s concerns mirror previous complaints made against the University. In 2013, an employee alleged that GW discriminated against her on the basis of age and race. In 2016, another employee claimed that they were discriminated against because of their disability and age.

Exacerbating the troubling trend of discrimination complaints against GW is the University’s alleged retaliation. Officials should not fight back against someone for speaking out because employees may feel less comfortable reporting issues they experience in the workplace. It’s happened more than once. In 2017, an admitted student had their admission rescinded after they filed a Title IX complaint alleging sexual harassment at GW.

It is already disturbing that members of the school community have accused GW of discrimination on multiple occasions. Officials should hear out every complaint instead of shutting the employee out when an issue arises.

Kiran Hoeffner-Shah, a junior majoring in political science and psychology, is the opinions editor.

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